Lucia Stavig, Penn-Mellon Just Futures Postdoctoral Fellow: “The Cosmopolitics of Health: Healing and Radical Resurgence in the Andes” 


Tuesday, November 1, 2022 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Hybrid Event:

In-person RSVP: 473 McNeil Building, 3718 Locust Walk
Zoom RSVP.

Snacks will be served.


From 1995 to 2001 314,000 people were sterilized in Peru under President Alberto Fujimori’s National Program of Reproductive Health and Family Planning. The vast majority of those sterilized were Indigenous women who did not give their free and informed consent. Twenty years later, forcibly sterilized Runa (Quechua) women are still beset by illnesses that keep them from reproducing family and community, biologically and socially. Where biomedical doctors either dismiss or are baffled by women’s illnesses, their constellations of symptoms are deeply meaningful within Runa “worlds of health” having been identified as debilidad (a loss of fuerza, or vital energy) and mancharisqa (susto, fright, or soul loss). These “illnesses of the land” stem from the breakdown of sociality in ayllu—the more-than-human community of people, plants, animals, ancestors, and earth beings (such as mountains lakes and rivers) held together by reciprocal care or ayni. Beings in ayllu are materially, socially, and symbolically interrelated. Considering their co-emergent interdependence is when contemplating issues of health, wellbeing, and illness in ayllu. Reading affected women’s illnesses as the embodiment of the continued colonialization of their meaningful, relational worlds allows for a discussion of the “cosmopolitics of health.” The impasse between Runa and biomedical health systems is about more than an imbalance of power or weaponization of difference. Rather, this impasse is based in the dismissal of difference, one that forecloses the possibility of engaging in a “cosmopolitics” or the equitable process of “making a world in which many worlds fit” in favor of the continued colonization of Indigenous worlds.

Dr. Lucía Stavig received her PhD in Cultural and Medical Anthropology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2022. She received a Master’s in Anthropology from the University of Lethbridge, Canada (2017), a Master’s in Justice and Social Inquiry from Arizona State University (2013), and a Bachelor of Arts from New College of Florida (2010). She is Peruvian-American and has had the honor to learn with Las Abejas and the zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico; the Rama people in Nicaragua; the Ñhäñhú (Otomí) in Hidalgo, Mexico; the Kainai (Blackfoot) in southern Alberta, and the Runa (Quechua) of the Cusco area. For her doctoral work, Lucía followed the rehabilitation of the Mosoq Pakari Sumaq Kawsay/New Day for Good Living healing center in the southern Andes near Cusco, Peru. This Indigenous women-led center is dedicated to helping Indigenous Runa women heal from illnesses related to their forced sterilization by the Peruvian government in the 1990s. She and her collaborator, Hilaria Supa Huamán, hold an ongoing collaboration with the Sovereign Bodies Institute (SBI), an Indigenous NGO located on the Wiyot and Ohlone territories in Northern California. Her work appears in Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Anthropology and Humanism, and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA).